A Brisbane landscaping firm has been penalised more than $40,000 after it terminated the contract of another company which did not have a CFMEU EBA because it did not want “trouble” with the union.
In May 2014, a CFMEU official told workers at the waterproofing company they were not allowed to work on a Fortitude Valley site because their employer did not have a CFMEU EBA.
The waterproofing company’s contract was then terminated by Dig It Landscapes.
In the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane today, Judge Vasta said the decision by Dig It Landscapes to terminate the contract was because it “did not want to have trouble” with the CFMEU.
Judge Vasta said the waterproofing company had been unlawfully discriminated against because it did not have a CFMEU EBA. The company had a valid EBA and a right to work at the site. The Judge said:
“It beggars belief that the CFMEU believe that they can act in a manner where they are the ones who dictate who can or cannot work on a construction site.”
The court imposed penalties totalling $101,745 for the breaches of the Fair Work Act.
Dig It Landscaping was penalised $40,800 and its project manager David Mercer $6,120.
The CFMEU was penalised $47,175 and CFMEU site delegate Kurt Pauls $7,650.
Judge Vasta said:
“This was a very clear and deliberate action to illustrate to [the waterproofing company] that it was the CFMEU who alone decided who worked on that particular site.”
“It seems that the CFMEU feel that they can usurp Parliament and that they can set the law in this country. There is no place for such an attitude in Australian society.”
The Judge said the case “illustrates an inordinate amount of power” wielded by the CFMEU and that the case “paints a compelling picture of how things can go wrong in the industrial landscape of this country.”
ABCC Commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss said the case was important because it demonstrated that all industry participants must comply with the law.
“Contractors cannot discriminate against sub-contractors on the basis of whether or not they have an agreement with a particular union,” Mr Hadgkiss said.
Link to ABCC legal case summary